The ladder to the cloud is missing a few rungs. At least, that is the conclusion of 276 IT professionals recently polled in a survey commissioned by Sungard Availability Services*. In the survey, the top three reasons indicated for why cloud computing implementations fail were:\n\nlack of understanding of cloud security and compliance (indicated by 56% of respondents)\nlack of clearly-identified business objectives for migrating to the cloud (55%)\nlack of planning (42%)\n\nThose are three gaping holes in the ladder to a successful cloud implementation, and I believe that mistaken beliefs are at the core of each one.\nMistake #1: The cloud is different from other information technology. \u201cThe cloud\u201d sounds so nebulous. How do you secure something you can\u2019t see or touch? How can you wrap compliance around something so ambiguous? How can regulations be applied to virtual machines?\nStop. The cloud is still based on hardware and application infrastructure \u2013 all the stuff IT people have worked with for decades. For a successful cloud implementation, you just need to do something you\u2019ve probably done a dozen times before: create a strong, well-defined roles and responsibilities matrix around all the different security aspects that are in effect in the cloud. This might include who protects data at rest and data in motion, and who handles security at the network, application, storage, and compute levels. Take away the word \u201ccloud\u201d and this becomes familiar territory for IT \u2013 and should be treated as such.\nChances are, security will be a shared responsibility between cloud provider and client company. Most companies approve of that, because it affirms that they do not lose control just because they move to the cloud. Figure out ahead of time who does what so that there are no unwelcome surprises (or breaches) down the road.\nMistake #2: \u201cEverybody is doing it\u201d is a good reason to move to the cloud.All too often, key leadership decides that \u201cwe need to move to the cloud because the cloud is the wave of the future.\u201d No other reason is given, and \u2013 because key leadership had issued the decree \u2013 no other justification is required.\nBut \u201ceverybody is doing it\u201d is an insufficient reason to move to the cloud because it is not a business objective. Business leaders need to do the same thing we just told the IT people in the previous point: forget you\u2019re dealing with the cloud and treat this just like any other proposition. Sit down, weigh the pros and cons, and figure out if you have real, definable, specific business objectives that the cloud can help you fulfill. For instance, you may want to lower costs by X% or achieve near-zero recovery time objectives (RTOs) or recovery point objectives (RPOs). How will you know if you had a successful cloud implementation unless you have something to measure? Business objectives tell you what your metrics are going to be.\nMistake #3: Our people are technically savvy \u2013 they can figure this out.I have no doubt that your IT people are skilled, experienced, and intelligent. They probably have the technical acumen necessary to do many of the tasks related to cloud migration and implementation. But that doesn\u2019t mean they have the ability to create an end-to-end cloud implementation plan.\nIt\u2019s time to be practical here. Cloud implementations have hundreds of moving parts. Planning has to take into consideration all of those parts: all the interdependencies have to be mapped, the timing for each part of the migration has to be perfect to avoid business interruptions, the applications have to be made cloud-ready, etc. And on top of that, a solid methodology for cloud implementation needs to be selected, aggressive program management needs to be executed for the duration of the implementation, and contingency plans need to be built in at crucial junctures. It is next to impossible for people to create a thorough, comprehensive cloud implementation plan when they haven\u2019t done it before.\nThere\u2019s a learning curve to planning effectively for cloud implementation, as there is to every other skill in life. Unless you are willing to contend with the inevitable mistakes your internal staff will make as part of that learning curve, it would be wiser to partner with a third-party with multiple successful cloud implementations under its belt.\nReplacing the rungs on the ladder to the cloud Three rungs missing. Three mistakes made. What it all comes down to is this: businesses need to treat the cloud exactly the same as any technology enhancement. Cloud adoption may include a number of desirable benefits, but you have to think of it as just a new technology architecture: nothing more, nothing less. Get specific about security. Get detailed about business objectives. Get smart about planning. With those rungs back in place, you\u2019ll find climbing to the cloud a breeze.\n*The survey, commissioned by Sungard Availability Services, was conducted by SurveyMonkey Audience. The survey reached 276 IT professionals and was completed in December 2014.\nThis article was previously published on Sungard Availability Services.